ConShark reviews land somewhere between a recap and a guide: not just a run-down of what happened at last year’s event, but not quite a full-blown how to on attending. These reviews are meant to help you determine if an event is a good fit for you, or if it’s worth your time and your money. We try to produce these reviews based on overall thoughts on the con over the years, not solely on the most recent instance. As always, we’ll add in any helpful tips or tricks we’ve picked up through the years.
“Grades” are more of an art than a science, and as is true with all events, your experience will vary – in fact, most cons are only as good as what you put into them. Of course, grades and scores are always meant as a snapshot of our thoughts, and are best used in tandem with our written reviews and recaps. But we’ve added this feature to help you get both a faster and more thorough idea of whether a con is right for you. We split our overall grade into four sub-categories to give you a quick, at-a-glance breakdown of our thoughts:
At the core of every geek event is community. Here we attempt to quantify how well the con in question has tapped into and embraced that community. Determining your event’s place in the geek world is a major challenge, and the hardest thing a con has to master in order to chisel out a unique corner of the ever-growing con bubble for itself. Celebrities change from year to year, vendors come and go, and even an event’s space or location can change – but a solid community is what gives you a crowd of repeat customers and makes an event worth returning to.
Herding people in and around convention centers and other gathering spaces is no easy task; there’s a reason operations teams are big, busy, and always look tired. Lines, badge pickup, room turnovers, floor layouts – all of these things are invisible and easily forgotten when done well, but poor execution can quickly ruin an attendee’s day. All cons have constant struggles with logistics, and young cons in particular usually face serious growing pains in this particular category.
A convention’s event lineup is often not announced until many people have already bought tickets, and sometimes isn’t announced until long after it’s sold out. Still, a con’s reputation for good panels can sell tickets. Some attendees focus solely on the exhibit hall but for most there are at least a few must-see panels on their weekend schedule.
The backbone of most major shows, the exhibit hall or vendor room is what most first-timers associate with a convention. It’s where you go to buy stuff! It’s where many people spend the majority of their weekend and also the majority of their budget. Also included in this score are any special exhibits, autograph areas, and photo opportunities – regardless of whether those spaces are part of the main exhibit hall or have their own separate corner.